(Watch) United States v. Windsor: A Brief Recap of Today’s Historic Case

Today, the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of United States v. Windsor, a challenge to the federal 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law by President Clinton, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages even in the nine states and District of Columbia that allow them.


Eighty-three-year-old New Yorker Edith Windsor brought the suit after she was hit with a $363,000 estate tax bill when her same-sex spouse of over 40 years Thea passed away. Had she been married to a man instead of a woman she would have not paid this estate tax bill.

According to the ACLU:

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a federal law passed in 1996 that both created a federal definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman and expressly gave states permission to refuse to recognize marriages entered into by same-sex couples in other jurisdictions. The part of DOMA that defines marriage at the federal level — known as Section 3 — was a radical departure from 220 years of federal practice, which was to rely on each state to define marriage and to recognize any marriage legally entered into under state law as a valid marriage for federal purposes.

We are challenging Section 3 of DOMA on behalf of our client Edie Windsor in Windsor v. United States, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court of the United States. In June, the Court will rule on whether DOMA violates equal protection by treating married gay couples as unmarried in over 1,100 federal programs.

Edith Windsor Takes on DOMA